By James Keller
Am I the only one who doesn’t care about the federal sponsorship scandal?
Don’t get me wrong, the story only underlines the culture of corruption in the federal Liberal government. Despite the fact that $100 million is a relatively small amount in the realm of federal budgeting the whole affair is inexcusable.
But what are the options? The newly formed Conservative Party of Canada?
Canadians are historically centrist people, and, with few exceptions, we elect centrist governments. The Liberals are in power because at their core they represent the values of the majority of Canadians–scandals and inner-party conflict aside. And even though the two parties are similar on a lot of fronts, Canadian voters still see seemingly marginal differences as significant.
A right-wing party with a newly-elected extremist leader is by no means an alternative, it’s nowhere near the same thing. The Conservatives aren’t a comparable option, just as the Liberals would make a poor substitution for Canadian Alliance supporters, and just as the New Democratic Party would be a poor match for either.
The election of Stephen Harper as a leader of the new Tories further underscores this fact. Notwithstanding his support from Ontario members (the term "lesser of three evils" comes to mind), Harper represents a potential shift further to the right, alienating centrist-leaning Progressive Conservatives and right-leaning Liberals alike.
So if the new Conservative Party doesn’t represent a credible option, what is needed in Canadian politics? Another national centrist party to mount a real challenge to the Liberals.
The problem with the Liberal government is not their ideas, their policies or their plans. In general, the Canadian public seems to be very much in tune with what the Liberals stand for, at least ideologically. The problem is with the people in command.
The Liberal government’s unchallenged power, extending over a decade and potentially continuing for another, is the biggest detriment to contemporary Canadian politics. It is this unchallenged power that breeds the type of headlines most Canadians have now come to expect.
Canadians are angry, there’s no doubt about it, and they want change, either in the people in government or in how the government is run. What they do not want, and what will show itself in the next election (be it in spring or fall), is a radical change in ideology. Canadians are not prepared to trade apples for oranges.
Until a comparable, realistic alternative in line with Canadians’ centrist values is born, the Liberal reign–complete with cronyism, deception and a complete disregard for the rules of the game–will continue. A new centrist party is absolutely essential for the growth and progress of Canadian politics.